The haftarah for the second day of Passover is from II Kings.

Chilkiyahu the Kohen Gadol had found the Torah scroll that had been written by Moses himself. This find sparked an awakening and a yearning in the king, Yoshiyahu, to return to G‑d. The haftarah begins with all of Jerusalem joining the king as he read from the Torah, and reaffirmed the covenant between G‑d and the Jewish people. King Yoshiyahu now turned the whole nation away from idolatry, cleaned up the Temple, and destroyed the idols and the vessels used for serving the idols. He also did away with the moral depravity that was rampant even in the Temple itself.

After the clean-up, in the 18th year of his reign, he called for all of the Jewish people to do the Passover sacrifice. It was the greatest Passover sacrifice done from the beginning of the era of the Judges, through all the kings of Israel and Judah. The haftarah ends by saying that there was no king before or after him that returned to G‑d with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his means.1

This haftarah is special in that it is only read outside of Israel, where we have an extra day of Yom Tov. The haftarah is connected to the Torah reading, to Passover, and specifically to the second day of Passover.

The most obvious connection is that the haftarah speaks of the Passover sacrifice done in the time of King Yoshiyahu. The Passover sacrifice is in the Torah reading, and it is the sacrifice of the holiday. However, most of the haftarah speaks about the Jewish people returning to G‑d and getting rid of idolatry. How does this connect to the Torah reading and to Passover?

In the beginning of the Torah reading, it speaks of the mitzvah of sanctifying G‑d, which refers (among other things) to allowing oneself to be killed rather than serving idols.

Getting Rid of the Negative

Another connection is with chametz and matzah. On a deeper level, chametz represents arrogance, as it is dough that rises and is blown up. Matzah represents humility, as it remains flat.

Arrogance is akin to idol worship. When one’s ego is blown up, he leaves no room for anyone else to exist—not even G‑d. Even when he learns Torah, prays or does mitzvahs, it is all about him. “Look at how holy I am,” he seems to say. He can’t see past his own nose; in his arrogance, he is in total denial of anyone but himself. This is the essence of idolatry. Unfortunately, many people are like this today. Before Passover, we are meant to rid ourselves of all chametz, spiritually as well, getting rid of our own arrogance, which is akin to idol worship.

On the second day of Passover, we start counting the Omer, which is also mentioned in the Torah reading. The idea of counting the Omer is to work on our spiritual makeup, every day reaching a higher plateau, in preparation of receiving the Torah on Shavuot. This process is cleaning up the negative and getting closer to G‑d, similar to the haftarah, where they cleaned out the idolatry and got closer to G‑d. And this is also the specific connection to the second day of Passover.

How It Happened

One may ask: In the First Temple era, we had the Holy Ark, the Urim v’Tumim, and it was a time of open G‑dliness, when miracles were witnessed daily in the Temple. How is it possible that they fell so low, as to serve idols?

The question is the answer. Because it was a time of open G‑dliness and great holiness, the negative was also very powerful; therefore, there was a powerful pull and lust to idol worship. The Talmud says that in a dream, Rav Ashi asked King Menasheh, who was wicked and served idols: “If you were so wise, why did serve idols?” Menashe responded: “Had you been there, you would have picked up the hem of your garment and ran after it.”2 In other words, the pull towards idol worship was extremely powerful. It was hard to fight it.

Every era has its vice that pulls us to go against G‑d’s will. Now, too, we are pulled away from our objective. We are now, according to the great and holy tzadikim of our era, at the end of the exile. Our job now is to cry out to G‑d, and demand that He send Moshiach and put an end to the exile, just as our ancestors did in Egypt. As we read in the Haggadah, “And we cried out to G‑d our G‑d, the G‑d of our Fathers, and G‑d heard our voice, and he saw our suffering.” This is what brought the redemption then, and this will bring it now.3

Through our efforts to strengthen our Judaism—and through embracing our calling in these last moments of exile to cry out to G‑d and demand that He send Moshiach—we will surely merit the ultimate redemption, just as our ancestors did. The time has come.